Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Thoughts on Food

 This has been an interesting food week for me-and it's only Wednesday! It started with a friend's Facebook entry that raised the question: "Is it better to by organic from Peru or pesticide using local foods?". I had to stop and think about what people did before food from around the world was so readily available. My mom bought what was in season and what was grown close enough to be driven to our store before it went rotten. She drove to eastern Washington and bought bushels of fruit to can for the winter months. Otherwise, I remember we bought frozen or canned from the store. We had good friends who lived on a ranch, and on several occasions my parents would purchase their chickens and cows to put into our freezer. They did this in the 60's and 70's, not the 40's. As I think about the things my mom did to feed us great and healthy food I am once again in awe of her forward thinking. Today we demand strawberries all year long, asparagus in the middle of winter and fresh grapes whenever the desire arises. I suppose our "needs" are what have driven imported fruit sales through the roof. And to keep prices down we purchase meat from China. Don't even get me started on this! Now please don't think I am a locavore purist --I love Braeburn apples from New Zealand and I have a package of blackberries from Mexico in my fridge as I write this. I'm just wondering if being more local minded when it comes to shopping, and being content with eating seasonally wouldn't be healthier for me and the world.

On the same note, in school Mrs. S. celebrated the end of the 1930's with a party. We prepared foods that were first made and popularized during that decade of depression (or as one student called it "The Great Depressing"). Chef salad, Kool-aid, M&M's, and Ritz Mock Apple Pie were eagerly consumed by the class. (Except for Elizabeth, who did NOT like the pie, but really liked the homemade French dressing.) While making the pie on Monday night, I couldn't help think of the women who, because of the absence of, or lack of funds for, apples, created a unique way to celebrate with a pie that actually tasted pretty good. That is true homemaking- making due with what is available in a creative way. Those women are still a great example, despite the 80 years between us.

Waste was a sin back then, perhaps it should be today, too. That may be one of the reasons I love having the chickens; what ever we can't eat the chickens recycle for us! There was a very nice article in the February 2010 issue of Body and Soul titled "Remains of the Day". In it are some good tips to help reduce the "nearly 100 billion pounds of wasted food". It is noted in the article that the average household creates about "1.28 pounds of daily wasted food that equals up to 14% of our food budget". Wow! At a time when spending money is a concern for most people, using our food well makes good sense.

So what is the point of all this you ask? Well, perhaps a good resolution to make and keep this year would be to become more aware of where my food comes from and how I use it. This is a goal that would not only help me and my family, but perhaps it can help to make our world a tiny bit nicer.